It has been quite an eventful week between Scotland's battle over independence, the Federal Reserve's FOMC announcement and the markets making new all time highs. The FOMC announcement was more comedy than anything else as the continued facade of the Fed's forecasting capabilities was revealed, it appears the biggest factor in the world of investing and for this weekend's list of "Things To Ponder" we have accumulated a few reads relating to the Fed.
While we are not predicting that the proverbial "wheels are about the come off the cart," today, this is another in a long list of indications that value in the stock market is no longer present. Of course, this would also suggest this might be, just maybe, a time to start considering "selling high." Of course, such a suggestion is wildly ludicrous and absolutely illogical since it is widely believed that the markets will never go down...ever.
Maybe what we want and what we need has been confused. Maybe the thin veneer of ebullient hollow markets has been confused for the real activity of real companies. Maybe the theatre of a Wise Man with an Answer has been confused for intellectually honest leadership. Maybe theoretical certainty has been confused for practical humility. The problem with sparking renewed economic growth in the West is that domestic politics in the West do not depend on economic growth. What we have in the US today, and even more so in Europe (ex-Germany), are not the politics of growth but rather the politics of identity.
This has been an unusual year for the global economy, characterized by a series of unanticipated economic, geopolitical, and market shifts – and the final quarter is likely to be no different. How these shifts ultimately play out will have a major impact on the effectiveness of government policies – and much more. In the next few months, the buoyant optimism pervading financial markets may prove to be justified. Unfortunately, it is more likely that investors’ outlook is excessively rosy.
While the most important commodity for Europe is gas, whose supply Russia largely controls on the margin, for Ukraine the one commodity, located deep within the perimeter of the raging civil war, and which it desperately needs to regain access to to stop its economic collapse, is the following.
In a surprise for the market, South Africa's Reserve Bank chief Gill Marcus has announced she will not be available for another term when her contract is up in November. On the heels of an expected decision to leave rates unchanged, this has sent the Rand tumbling to its lowest since February. While Marcus exporessed every confidence in her successor, it appears the market is less confident (for now). Forget the economy, sell ZAR because the true leader of the nation's wealth is to step down...
As we discussed earlier in the week, Janet Yellen has released a speech this morning explaining why the poor need to get rich. In the speech below, she stresses, "how important it is to promote asset-building, including saving for a rainy day, as protection from the ups and downs of the economy," despite falling incomes, rising costs, and extending credit, we assume she means. The Fed Chairman has some words of encouragement for the tens of millions of Americans who live at or below the poverty level, including that threatened with extinction class, affectionately known as "the middle." Her message? It is important to build assets, or said otherwise... get rich and she promises to "continue to promote asset-building."
When a former Goldman executive and the prior head of its housing research team comes out with a shocking analysis so contrary to what the same individual would do in his "former life" when he would be extolling the "inevitable" rise of home prices from here to eternity and beyond, and also throw in an open letter to none other than president Obama, predicting at least a 15% crash in home prices in the next three years, a move which would without debt catalyze the next US recession, it is time to pay attention. Meet Joshua Pollard, who in February 2009 took over coverage of US Housing at Goldman Sachs. His point, in short: "House prices are 12% overvalued today. They have already started to decline. Today’s misvaluation matches the excess of 2006-07, just before the Great Recession... 5 of the last 7 US recessions were led by a weakening housing market... I am lamentably confident that home prices will fall by 15% within three years." Or, as some may call it, crash.
“It’s a questionably unquestionable situation... Are the markets prepared for a shocking answer... Will Janet Yellen announce the final end to QE? Or electrify the bulls with more accommodation? Can Yellen’s eloquent elocution energize the markets…or will she magnetize the bears? Tune in next time Fed fans... Same Fed time... Same Fed channel”
The financial media has no concern of negative outcomes, Wall Street has growth priced in that has never occurred in history, and there is NO expectation of a recession built into any forward assumptions. We have indeed discovered financial “Utopia,” or at least that is what is currently believe.
- -0.07%: Germany Secures Record Low Funding Cost at Bond Auction (WSJ)
- Pentagon Sees Possible Role for U.S. Ground Forces Against Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- China Joins ECB in Adding Stimulus as Fed Scales Back (BBG)
- Stealthy or Normal? Analysts Diverge on PBOC’s Action (BBG)
- Sony Forecasts Massive $2B Loss as Smartphones Lag (AP)
- Islamic State campaign tests Obama's commitment to Mideast allies (Reuters)
- Brent Crude Rebounds as Libya’s Sharara Oilfield Shut (BBG)
- Market calm over Scottish vote at odds with disaster warnings (Reuters)
The Fed consistently managed the Fed Funds rates to keep oil prices steady, even when it required mid-teens interest rates and back-to-back recessions in 1980-1982. Since US Fed Funds rates were managed to preserve US creditors’ and oil exporters’ purchasing power in oil terms, the system proved acceptable to most nations. While the Petrodollar arrangement worked well for nearly thirty years, the arrangement began to wobble beginning around 2002-04...
During the FOMC pregame show, they punctually trotted out Johnny Waterboy Hilsenrath via SpreeCast, the sparkling new-media darling interactive webcast platform, to serve up another fresh jug of spiked reinvigorating Gatorade to his favorite NY Stock Market team.
Those 4 C’s are: Confirmation, Crisis, Contagion, Catastrophe.
Despite celebrations of de-escalations and truce in US equity markets (by asset-gathering commission-takers), the situation continues to go from bad to worse in the nation almost forgotten now that ISIS is stealing American headlines. The Hryvnia plunged 7.5% this morning - its biggest single-day drop on record - following the release of a scathing IMF letter and devaluation warnings from BofA. The IMF blasted Ukraine's "premature emission of extra money," and demanded it "immediately halt these gross abuses," as BofA warns of risk of "10-20% devaluation" in the next year is high given reserves are at a "critical level."
- Thank you market Chief Risk Officer Bernanke/Yellen: Calpers to Exit Hedge Funds, Divest $4 Billion Stake (BBG)
- World stocks hit one-month low, caution ahead of Fed (Reuters)
- U.S. Efforts to Build Coalition Against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria Are Hampered by Sectarian Divide (WSJ)
- Time to throw away some more good money: Sears Borrows $400 Million From Lampert’s ESL Investments (BBG)
- Wildfires rage in California drought, hundreds forced to flee (Reuters)
- United Offers $100,000 Buyouts to Flight Attendants (BBG)
- Biggest Banks Said to Overhaul FX Trading After Scandals (BBG)
- You mean you have to pay? Administration threatens to cut off ObamaCare subsidies to 360,000 (The Hill)
- RBS Said to Dismiss Most of Team Overseeing Central Europe Debt (BBG) they will be hired by the ECB